As Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly prepare for their first new TV launch in a decade, Limitless Win, we take a look at the controversy surrounding their latest stab at game show glory.
For National Treasures Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, anything they touch usually turns to TV gold.
From starting their careers on Byker Grove to changing the face of kids’ TV on SM: TV Live to animating pioneering Pop Idol reality shows and later I’m a celebrity … Get me out of it. here ! the guys at Geordie have the Midas touch when it comes to TV hits.
As they prepare to launch their all-new Limitless Win show this weekend, the duo are hoping for another smash hit.
But despite a streak of success under their belt, there’s one show in their back catalog that Ant and Dec would probably prefer to forget.
In 2011, the duo launched their all-new game show with great fanfare, with the show set to deliver the biggest cash prize ever to the UK small screen in a show orchestrated by their former boss Simon Cowell.
Despite the huge hype, Ant and Dec later revealed that they knew Red or Black would be a flop on the first night.
“We were wrong and we’re holding hands on it. We knew that after the first night,” Dec, 46, later admitted.
As the double gets ready to try the quizzes again, we look at where things went last time …
Red or black was controversial from the start.
The show has been accused of glamorizing the game with the Gambling Commission speaking out to criticize the poker game style format.
Wonga’s sponsorship deal did not allay the concern of critics over the irony of using a loan company to hook up a show offering a huge prize based purely on luck.
Things didn’t improve much when the show aired.
Viewers were taken aback by the format which saw competitors compete against each other in many challenges only to have their fate decided in the dying minutes when they bet their prize on “red or black”.
Ant, 46, revealed that the tension was so bad in the studio that he almost passed out during filming, although he joked that it could have been due to a late night commercial the day before.
A rare occurrence for the Geordie duo, audiences have hit the floor, with viewers accusing the show of being “confusing” and worse yet “boring.”
Then there were calls for one of the show’s winners, Nigel Hagerman, to return his winnings after a past assault conviction resurfaced.
David Venni Photography Ltd)
Instagram / Ant & Dec)
Addressing the backlash, Ant told The Sun, “We kind of thought it was a Saturday night show. We all messed up and held our hands on it.
“When we had a winner the first night we all went back to our locker room and said, ‘We shouldn’t do it again tomorrow, it should be weekly. “
“And we had some unfortunate situations with some of the contestants, which overshadowed the show, probably disproportionately.”
Despite the controversy, the show was brought back a year later with a few notable changes.
The price pot was raised to £ 3.5million, but episodes would only air once a week in the Saturday night prime-time slot rather than on consecutive days.
The number of participants was reduced to eight per show and the show only aired on Saturday nights.
But despite the adjustments, audience figures plunged from 7 million to 3.9 million in just one week.
The show ended after it was ordered airing and never returned.
Ant and Dec strayed from the game show format for nearly a decade, until it was announced last year that they were launching a new Limitless Win series.
The five parts see contestants answering increasingly difficult questions and climbing a silver ladder that never ends with every right answer.
As they progress, participants will have to decide whether to continue or risk losing everything.
Ahead of the launch, Ant and Dec admitted they had endured sleepless nights wondering if the contestants might end up with an obscene amount of money on the never-ending scale.
“When you turn off the light at night, there’s this little thing going on in your head that says, ‘What if somebody keeps winning – what are you going to do? “I don’t know what would happen,” Dec said.
“We should cancel Tipping Point and The Chase. Take all their prize money, put it in a jar, ”he laughed.
“Talk to Andi Peters, get him some money…” Ant suggested.
Ant and Dec’s Limitless Win launches on ITV on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m.